The wings are the types on either side of a given type (e.g., types 8 and 1 are the wings of type 9). They're most often used to describe variations of a type. For example, type 9 can have a preferred 1-wing (9w1) or 8-wing (9w8). People new to the Enneagram types sometimes mistakenly assume that the wing type is the second most dominant type for a person, but the wing variation is simply a preference between the types on either side. The simplest way to understand the wing is that wing preference locates the individual on the circle on the dominant type or to the right or left of it. Taking type 9 as an example:
- Someone who identifies their dominant type as 9 would locate themself at point 9 when not taking wing preference into consideration.
- Someone who identifies their dominant type as 9 with a strong influence from type 1 would locate themself to the right of type 9 (9w1).
- Someone who identifies their dominant type as 9 with a strong influence from type 8 would locate themself to the left of type 9 (9w8).
More details about the wings can be found in the Enneagram User Guide series of books. The book Personality Variations describes the wing influence upon type and the book Decoding the Enneagram describes wing in terms of the symbol. Check the home page for the latest information about the availability of these books and related projects.